In partnership with the state of California and our third-party vaccine contractor, Blue Cross, Ability Tools worked as a member of the California vaccine advisory committee. We worked to ensure that the state official vaccine website "MyTurn.com" was accessible for users and also included accessible transportation and home vaccine options for all individuals with disabilities and older adults who either needed a ride to get a vaccine or booster or required an in-home shot. Federal, State and philanthropic funding, including CARES Act dollars were utilized.
Over 1,020 individuals with disabilities were provided an accessible vaccine experience within the first three months of vaccine eligibility, through the pilot pop-up clinics, made possible through FEMA and our IL network. Independent Living Centers served as vaccine sites and trained FEMA and county personnel on how to create an accessible environment and program for those with disabilities in need of accommodations (such as tablets to ensure ASL and language interpretation was available when needed) at a vaccine clinic. Because of this foresight, the vaccination experience was proactively accessible for all people involved. In addition, each individual that came to one of our sites for a shot was provided resource information on how to connect to IL and AT services after their departure. Having disability expertise involved in the process made vaccine turnouts higher, as California had the highest vaccine turnouts for the country. As a result of this partnership, more California residents are aware that AT-related services exist and are available to them. This partnership was successful because disability expertise was brought to the planning process from the beginning and respected in order to ensure the greatest access for all Californians. If we had a model transportation contract that could have been utilized by every county, counties would have had better turn-around times in securing transportation to participants. Funding has continued, but this program is not expected to last beyond the pandemic. We would encourage any State AT Program to become a part of any statewide advisory committee that impacts community members.